October 5, 2019 Air Force at Navy
The first Battle in the War for the Commander in Chief’s Trophy
WEEK 6: Air Force (3-1) at Navy (2-1)
WHEN: Saturday, October 5 — 1:30 PM MT/2:30 PM PT
WHERE: Marine Corp Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD (34,000)
TV: CBS Sports Network
SERIES RECORD: The all-time series favors Air Force, 30-21
ODDS (via OddsShark): Air Force -3.5
In the most recent chronicle of these two Service Academies rivalry, Air Force dominated the Midshipmen in 2018, by a score of 35-7. That was last year though. Just as the Falcons have seemed to take a step forward in a rebound season this year, so too have their brethren from Annapolis.
Not that any contest between Military Academies require any extra motivation, but Air Force certainly does have an unexpected and unfortunate source this week. Sadly, the Air Force Academy reported yesterday that Aurora, their beloved mascot of 23 has has passed away.
This is not just any mascot, Aurora was a decorated and respected staple at the Academy. Look for a little extra juice from the Cadet section and bench for Aurora.
Three Keys to an Air Force Victory
1. Keep Malcolm in the Middle
A major reason why Navy has looked much improved this year is their ability to showcase speedy quarterback, Malcolm Perry. When healthy, Perry is electric running the football. Navy has made a clear plan to augment the passing game which was completely absent as a threat last year. Ultimately though, keeping the Mids quarterback under wraps on the ground will go a long way to securing a victory.
2. Give em’ the Bird
One of the things that made the Air Force offense hum last week was the effectiveness of their fullbacks, in particular Taven Birdow. The first read of the triple option (fullback give) is pivotal to the offense, so this is a shared philosophy with Navy as well.
Air Force though has a deeper stable of weapons that are significantly more dangerous when the fullback is productive. Get Birdow, Timothy Jackson and Christian Mallard tenderizing the inside, and the artillery around them will deliver knock out punches.
3. Win in the Trenches
Success on offense and defense will be widely predicated on either teams ability to impose their will at the line of scrimmage. Both of these teams feature larger defensive lines than they have in years past. However, one of them has an All-Conference standout next to a 330 gap stuffer.
The Falcons defensive line should made the Navy offense a little more predictable. Look for their offensive to keep the Mids off balance.
If you are a football purist, you need to watch this game. Not simply because these Military schools warrant your respect for all they do. But if you look purely at the game itself, these are two much-improved teams who are going to go out and try to devastate one another.
I fully expect an exhibition on downhill attacking defenses showcasing sound tackling and discipline. Both teams also feature dynamic quarterbacks. Even though Donald Hammond and Malcolm Perry will never be on the field at the same time, this matchup of quarterbacks will be second to none this week.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the way that Ken Niumatalolo has worked on developing the passing game of Malcolm Perry. Air Force has to take note of the Mids endeavor to create some semblance of a threat through the air this year, or they may relent some big plays.
This is where a major difference is in these teams though; while Navy has really had to push to try and create balance with a complimentary passing game, Air Force has found that naturally. Air Raid this is not, but the Falcons can throw the ball, and they can do so effectively. The balance this threat can create won’t be able to be matched by the Naval Academy.
Settle in for a great game this week. This one’s for Aurora, Falcons Sing Second.